Care for the Earth, Our Island Home

by | Nov 4, 2021

But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.Who among all these does not know, that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing.
Job 12:7–10a

This week world leaders, scientists, and non-governmental organizations are gathered in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26. Each day we hear impassioned calls for a global strategy to avert the catastrophic consequences of a warming planet.

The effects of climate change are not in some far-off future or distant lands. In the United States, we are experiencing historic floods, heat waves, fires, and droughts. In our region we are experiencing hotter summers, cooler winters, and damaging coastal flooding. This summer one in three Americans experienced a weather disaster.

In my last article, I wrote of our diocesan strategic goal for 2022 to cultivate the soil of our diocese so that we might establish up to three new worshipping communities with a primary focus on rising generations. I write here of our second new initiative for 2022, part of our original strategic plan but one we have not yet devoted collective effort to: We will promote Creation Care practices in all our faith communities.

Our first task will be to gather our most passionate leaders to help us form a diocesan-wide Creation Care network. Guided by these leaders, we will establish yearly goals for both our congregations and households along with implementation strategies to accomplish them.

I have great confidence in our capacity to reach this goal in 2022, given the number of congregations actively committed to reducing their global footprint and other creation care practices. By example, here’s what two of our congregations are already doing: St. James’, Potomac has a dedicated ministry to promote home-based Creation Care practices and reduce their overall carbon footprint. San Mateo in Hyattsville, our largest Spanish-speaking congregation has begun an initiative to stop serving water in single-use bottles.

EDOW Missioner for Equity and Justice Hazel Monae reminds us that Creation Care initiatives are an integral part of our primary commitment to racial justice, given how people of color bear the disproportionate impact of climate change and other environmental disasters. Moreover, it is a way for us to work in solidarity with the indiginous people of our lands, for whom care of the creation is a primary value.

It is also part of our legacy to our children and grandchildren, those for whom we are dedicating our efforts for church revitalization and the establishment of new worshipping communities. For what value will our churches be to rising generations if we do not care for the earth, our island home?

Many in our diocese are already engaged in the work of Creation Care. If you are among them and feel called to help us expand and amplify your efforts, please email me. We want to convene leaders before the end of 2021 in order to officially launch our collective initiative at Diocesan Convention in January 2022.

* We can be proud that the Episcopal Church is well-represented at COP26, as well as the broader Anglican Communion. You can follow our leaders on Twitter and the Anglican News Service